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At TOC: Best of TOC Writing

One of my favorite books of 2007 was The Best of Technology Writing, edited by Steven Levy. We decided to try something similar for this year’s TOC Conference, and over at the O’Reilly booth we have (hot off the Espresso Book Machine) the Best of TOC, a collection of writing from on publishing from around the Web:


It includes writing from TOC speakers:

… and more from around the Web, like John Siracusa.

Because all of the writing in here was born on the Web, it’s full of hyperlinks, which we’ve presented in the print version as footnotes (done automatically, BTW). The shear number of links (there are more than 600 in 126 pages) illustrates how differently we write when it’s for the web. Now that all writing is really writing for the web, it’s important to both incorporate more links within the content you create, and be sure your print designs and workflow can easily accommodate those links in print (footnotes is one way, but not the only way).


For the digital/production geeks among you, we used DocBook XML and a customization layer of the open-source DocBook XSL Stylesheets. That means we can use the same source to get print, web-friendly PDF, and EPUB, here’s a snippet of the source XML:


As soon as we can, we’ll also make this available for free download, so don’t worry if you don’t get a copy from the booth. Thanks to all the writers who agreed to let us share their work.

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Comments: 9

  1. > That means we can use the same source to get
    > print, web-friendly PDF, and EPUB

    great. i can hardly wait to rework it using zen markup language.

    the “iphone missing manual” is coming along just fine in z.m.l.,
    by the way. i’ll wait until your conference is over to release it…


  2. hey, i have appended the z.m.l. for the page you showed above.
    (i had to eliminate the u.r.l.s, so as not to trip the spam filter.)

    this z.m.l. would render the page exactly like your x.m.l. did…
    (assuming the end-user had specified their preferences as such.)



    2. The *Amazon*Kindle* uses Amazon’s proprietary AZW for~
    mat, which supports DRM. There are no tools available to
    directly convert to AZW, but AZW is a wrapper around the
    [Mobipocket] format and DRM-free Mobipocket files can
    be read on the device. Mobipocket documents can be
    created using a free (but not open-source) tool called
    [Mobipocket Creator]. As if the format wars weren’t con~
    fusing enough already, “Mobipocket DRM” is not the
    same as AZW, and files created as Mobipocket DRM
    _cannot_ be read on the Kindle. Mobipocket Creator does have
    a “batch” creation mode which could be integrated into
    an existing workflow, but the software is Windows-only.
    The Kindle also supports HTML and Word documents, but
    not PDF.

    Specialized readers aren’t the only way consumers may be
    viewing ebook content. Ultra-portable laptops like the [Eee
    PC] and [OLPC XO] are price-competitive with standalone
    readers. (I have an OLPC and reading by the pool in bright
    sunlight is quite a joy.) The next version of the iPhone is ex~
    pected soon, and while the first edition was already a [serv~
    iceable reader], the next version is likely to be more so, and
    to reach a wider audience.

    All the devices listed above, except the Sony Reader, can
    read a common format: HTML. If XML is already a part of your
    workflow, converting to HTML is trivial.  If not, HTML is a
    worthwhile investment for a number of reasons:


  3. It’s worth noting that The Best of Technology Writing 2007 is currently available for free to be read online here:

    …as part of digitalculturebooks — “an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and its impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication.”

  4. Teleread had a link to download the book, but it puts a person through the checkout system, which fails at the end.

  5. Shelley: Sorry to hear that you had a problem getting the content. I’ll be in touch directly about fixing that for you.

  6. As I mentioned in email, and will repeat here for folks, the problem was the mailing address. I used St. Louis, rather than Saint Louis.

    St. Louis is the legal city name, but some programs have problems with abbreviations.

  7. It is amusing, when I follow the link to the book provided by Shelley, I got a page load error: Secure Connection Failed: epoch.oreilly.com uses an invalid security certificate.
    I’ll pass, at the moment.

  8. Hi Philippe,

    I’ve personally confirmed this link works correctly. I’ll send you a copy by email as well.

    — Andrew

  9. Andrew,

    Thank you. Got it from you email.